Hindenburg Mystery Solved: Static Caused Blimp To Explode [REPORT]

By iScience Times Staff Reporter on March 4, 2013 7:12 PM EST

hindenburg mystery solved
The Hindenburg mystery has been solved thanks to a team of scientists that have been working with full-scale recreations of the iconic ship. It has taken scientists 76 years to solve the Hindenburg mystery, but using a slew of new technologies and model shpis, experts belive they've found the cause of one of the most iconic passenger-aircraft tragedies of all time. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)

Hindenburg Mystery Solved: Static Caused Blimp To Explode, Says New Report!

The Hindenburg mystery has been solved thanks to a team of scientists that have been working with full-scale recreations of the iconic ship. It has taken scientists 76 years to solve the Hindenburg mystery, but using a slew of new technologies and model shpis, experts belive they've found the cause of one of the most iconic passenger-aircraft tragedies of all time.

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The Hindenburg exploded on May 6, 1937, and the destruction of the airship killed 35 of the 100 passengers and crew members on board. Scientists at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas believe that the ship became sharged with static following a large electrical storm. The static electricity eventually ignited the hydrogen used to lift the shift. Hydrogen was reportedly leaking into the ventilation shafts of the blimp.

The Hindenburg mystery was solved using scale models of blimps that were more than 24 meters long. The fire is believed to have been caused by ground crew members who ran to catch the landing ropes and effectively grounded the ship, which caused a large spark. The spark ignited the hydrogen used to lift the ship. For those that aren't familiar with the periodic table, Hydrogen is extremely flammable and reactionary.

The Hindenburg tragedy has been shrouded in mystery ever since the airship first exploded. The Hindenburg's construction and destruction will be featured in a documentary scheduled to be broadcast on Channel 4 in Great Britain on Thursday. Several scientists and experts will be featured in the documentary and will go into great detail about the sequences that triggered the explosion.

"I think the most likely mechanism for providing the spark is electrostatic," said British aeronautical engineer, Jem Stansfield, according to a report from the Independent. "That starts at the top, then the flames from our experiments would've probably tracked down to the centre. With an explosive mixture of gas, that gave the whoomph when it got to the bottom."

The iconic image of the Hindenburg exploding marks its arrival to America after a long, transatlantic flight. The aircraft was 245 meters long and was the mark of German engineering at the time. The Hindenburg was scheduled to land at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey. But, when ground crew members unknowingly grounded the ship by grabbing the docking ropes, the Hindenburg was quickly engulfed in flames and the ship came crashing down.

"I think you had massive distribution of hydrogen throughout the aft half of the ship; you had an ignition source pull down into the ship, and that whole back portion of the ship went up almost at once," said airship historian Dan Grossman according to the Daily Mail.

Here's a short preview of the "Hindenburg mystery solved" documentary:

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